China’s Foreign Ministry has come out saying that there is no apparent need for a new air identification zone in the South China Sea, as it does not feel threatened by countries in Southeast Asia, also adding that Japan should not “spread rumors” about China. Beijing surprised Japan, South Korea and the United States at the end of 2013 when it announced an air defense identification zone for the East China Sea, including in its territory a group of uninhabited islands which is at the center of a sovereignty dispute between Japan and China.
Late last week, Japanese media had put out reports saying that China was set to put up a similar air identification zone in the South China Sea, where it is involved in territorial disputes with a number of Southeast Asian nations. It can be noted that with China’s current air identification zone in the East China Sea, foreign aircraft are supposed to acknowledge their entry and intentions to China. This news prompted the U.S. State Department to warn Beijing about making a move like that. In a statement released late Saturday, China’s Foreign Ministry said that there was no need for such a zone in the South China Sea, where China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan all have competing claims. “Generally speaking, China does not feel there is an air security threat from ASEAN countries,” the ministry said. “China feels optimistic about relations with countries surrounding the South China Sea and the general situation in the South China Sea,” the ministry added.
China’s Foreign Ministry also claimed that Beijing had a right to set up air defense identification zones in its territory, criticizing Japan for what it says is an effort to distract attention from Japan’s own military plans. “Right wing forces in Japan have again been hyping up so-called plans that China will shortly set up an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, which is purely to try to distract international attention, to cover up their conspiracy to expand their military,” the ministry said. “We warn these forces not to delude people with rumors for their own selfish interests and play up tensions, and hope the relevant party talks and acts cautiously,” it added. China has continually denied Japanese accusations of being aggressive in its military actions, saying it is Japan which is trying to rearm and has failed to learn the lessons from its war of aggression during World War II.
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